Matthias Gafni, Mercury News (San Jose), November 11, 2009
The parents of the 15-year-old girl gang-raped after a Richmond High School homecoming dance spoke Saturday, pleading for people to “be courageous in speaking the truth and in holding people accountable.”
The family’s pastor read a prepared statement during a community meeting in the school’s auditorium Saturday morning.
“Please do not respond to this tragic event by promoting hatred or by causing more pain. We have had enough violence already in this place. If you need to express your outrage, please channel your anger into positive action,” the girl’s family wrote.
“Work toward changing the atmosphere in our schools and in this community so that this kind of thing never happens again.”
Pastor Jim Wheeler, of First Presbyterian Church of Richmond, shared the comments with a couple hundred concerned parents and community members who congregated to discuss safety and available health and safety programs.
Five people are being held in connection with the Oct. 24 on-campus rape that has shocked Richmond and the nation, although police believe many more watched or participated in the assault.
Wheeler said the girl may make her own statement next week, and for now the family wants its privacy. He’s not surprised at the nationwide media attention and public outrage sparked by the case.
Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner spoke briefly to the gathering, announcing her office has jump-started the permit process to build the new fence around the campus.
“This kind of gang rape is certainly not normal,” she said. “It rises to our attention how we really need to address the heart of the issues.”
She said economic stresses, foreclosures and other combinations may have exacerbated the horrific crime.